Bicycle Network: Monitor & Evaluate
Get On Board Summer 2008-09
Let us know where and when you plan to ride on Rail Trails this summer, so we can bang the drum!
Rail Trails Survey results are in
20 November 2008. This week, Bicycle Network Victoria released the results of the recent Get On Board Summer 2008-09 Rail Trails Survey. The press release, which has been circulated to regional media outlets, follows:
Rail Trail proving addictive to visitors
Victoria's rail trails are proving so addictive to visitors that they are coming back for more.
A survey released today indicates that rail trail bike riders are planning at least two trips to ride the trails this summer.
This shows that once exposed to the pleasures of Victoria's trails, riders are hooked. The survey results are good news for the regional communities that have put in the hard yakka to convert the old rail network to picturesque trails for riders.
They should have a busy holiday season.
Bicycle Network Victoria surveyed 172 riders who intend to ride Rail Trails this summer.
"The most surprising result is that the average rider intends to make more than two separate visits to different trails around the State this summer," said Arlen Keen, Bicycle Network Victoria's Facilities Development Officer for Regional Trails.
"This latest survey shows a significant increase in the frequency of intended trips. Visiting two or more trails will mean that multiple towns and regional areas will feel the benefit of bicycle tourism. We can conclude that as more high quality trails are built, riders will tend to take more trips because they are presented with more options."
The three reasons for Rail Trail visits that were most favoured were the car-free riding experience, the unique views and scenery, and natural attractions along the way, such as parks, rivers and wildlife.
The car-free riding experience offered by Rail Trails is one of the major selling points and products and tours that mix in car-based travel components are not likely to be popular.
"The high scores for both the scenery and natural attractions offered by trails was a surprise," remarked Mr. Keen. "Clearly riders see these trails as falling into the nature tourism category.
"This theme is good news for the more wilderness-oriented trails such as the East Gippsland, and should provide direction to other trails such as the Murray to Mountains that may be looking to refresh their attraction as they seek to maintain positions at the top of the Rail Trail pecking order.
"While it is still important to have tourism facilities such as cafe's and wineries along the routes of these trails, these results show us that these features aren't the only important factor."
Overnight trips were the choice of nearly 30 percent of respondents, with another 35 percent indicating the intention to take two or three night trips.
Centres such as Ballarat, Wangaratta and Warburton that can move to take advantage of this trend by promoting their trails as reasons to stay in the area rather than partake in hit-and-run tourism.
Previous studies have shown that $258 per person per day gets spent in regional towns with Rail Trails and getting people to extend their stays will direct more of that money into local economies.
Most respondents favoured making trips on regular weekends or weekdays, whereas regional towns tend to emphasize special events that provide a big tourist boost for one special weekend a year. The survey indicates that trails build regular, weekly usage that offers sustainable tourism throughout the year.
Most riders intend to ride a Rail Trail this summer in groups with friends or family, which has implications for marketing, promotion, incentives and discounts.
Most overnight visitors confirmed that they liked to 'sleep cheap' by opting for caravan parks and motels instead of more expensive options. Surveyed respondents also indicated that they expect to spend up to $50 per person per day on food and drinks, although past research shows that the spending figure is actually much higher, making up a large part of the $258 per day figure.
With the downturn in the economy expected to have consequences for the next couple of years, many people will be looking for cheaper vacation alternatives. This is a distinct opportunity to market trails to an audience that is actively seeking a more inexpensive way to enjoy a holiday.
News in the Rail Trail world:
- The Hon. Jacinta Allan, Minister for Regional and Rural Development recently announced funding of $650,000 to start construction on the first stage of the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail, from Mansfield to Maindample.
- Shovels are in the ground building the Warrnambool - Port Fairy Rail Trail. Primary construction is expected to finish mid-2009.
- $3.5 million in funding has been finalised for the Maroondah Highway Bridge to connect the Lilydale - Warburton Rail Trail. Work is expected to start in early 2009.
- The Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail is officially open. Early reports from riders indicate that the new trail is fantastic with the new surface nearly as smooth and easy to ride as a paved road.
06 November 2008 The survey is now closed -- thank you to everyone who completed the survey, and to everyone who tried without success too. Your answers help us better understand how, why and when people intend to use Rail Trails, which will in turn help direct our efforts in the future to improve existing ones and get you more options to choose from.
The winner of the participation prize is Bob Harrington. Congratulations Bob, and thanks again to you and everyone else who participated.
2008-09 Summer Rail Trail Plans
09 October 2008 Getting out on your bike and riding one of the great Rail Trails across Victoria is one of the best ways to support the development of these trails - by putting your tire treads where your mouth is, so to speak. Getting increasing numbers of riders on these trails is one of the most effective arguments in favor of more of them, and for improvements to current ones.
There are a whole lot of great trails that are worth a ride this summer. If you are intending to get out and check one out already, then a big tick for you - Could you let us know where and when you're planning on going by taking our survey? If you haven't thought about taking a trip to a trail yet, now is your chance. Have a look at our survey for some ideas on where and when to schedule a trip. The survey should take less than four minutes.
We will use the data from the survey to put out press releases in the towns along the trails to promote the trails and to let local residents and traders know to expect you this summer.
Your answers will also help us determine which trails are most popular, and a little bit about how you use them.
Click Here to take survey
This survey will run until the end of October. Completing the survey will enter you in a draw to win a Hex Wrench Set and a copy of the latest edition of the "Where to Ride Melbourne" book.
Happy riding - summer is almost here!